Drowsy driving is almost always the result of a lack of sleep. While seven to nine hours of sleeping time is recommended, a U.S. Department of Transportation survey shows that one in three adult drivers in the nation sleeps fewer than seven hours. Drivers in Kentucky should know that drowsiness is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. This amounts to about 330,000 crashes a year.

The less sleep one gets, the greater the chances of a car crash. According to a recent study published in the SLEEP journal, those who sleep six, five or four hours raise their risk for a crash 1.3, 1.9 and 2.9 times, respectively. The risk goes up 15.1 times among those who sleep fewer than four hours.

Sleeping fewer than four hours puts drivers at the highest risk for single-vehicle crashes. These, more than any other type of crash, are the most certain to result in injuries and deaths, according to the U.S. DOT. Heavily fatigued drivers have been compared in their behavior to intoxicated drivers.

Researchers say that driving for three hours without a break can also lead to drowsiness-related crashes. Significantly changing a sleep schedule is another added risk. Besides causing one to fall asleep, drowsiness can impair one’s attention and judgment.

Drowsiness, inattention, poor judgment calls: if any of these are behind a car accident, the driver who caused it will be considered negligent. A victim can thus file a claim against the driver, even when they are partially to blame. With help from a lawyer, a victim could negotiate for a settlement covering medical expenses, lost income and anything else that applies.